My Kind of City: Collected Essays of Hank Dittmar

Island Press
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"Hank lived by the credo, ‘first listen, then design'.”
—Scott Bernstein, Founder and Chief Strategy + Innovation Officer, Center for Neighborhood Technology

Hank Dittmar was a globally recognized urban planner, advocate, and policy advisor. He wrote extensively on a wide range of topics, including architectural criticism, community planning, and transportation policy over his long and storied career.

In My Kind of City, Dittmar has organized his selected writings into ten sections with original introductions. His observations range on scale from local ("My Favorite Street: Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London”) to national ("Post Truth Architecture in the Age of Trump”) and global ("Architects are Critical to Adapting our Cities to Climate Change”). Andrés Duany writes of Hank in the book foreword, "He has continued to search for ways to engage place, community and history in order to avoid the tempting formalism of plans.”

The range of topics covered in My Kind of City reflects the breadth of Dittmar's experience in working for better cities for people. Common themes emerge in the engaging prose including Dittmar's belief that improving our cities should not be left to the "experts”; his appreciation for the beautiful and the messy; and his rare combination of deep expertise and modesty. As Lynn Richards, CEO of Congress for the New Urbanism expresses in the preface, "Hank's writing is smart without being elitist, witty and poetic, succinct and often surprising.”

My Kind of City captures a visionary planner's spirit, eye for beauty, and love for the places where we live.
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About the author

Hank Dittmar (1956–2018) was the founding principal of Hank Dittmar Associates, an international urban planning firm. Before that, he was chief executive of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community, founding president and CEO of Reconnecting America, and executive director of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. His long, varied career included service as a regional planner, airport director, policy advisor, and outreach worker with street gangs in Chicago. He published extensively on planning, urban design, and architecture.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Island Press
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Published on
Aug 20, 2019
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781642830378
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Language
English
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Genres
Architecture / Criticism
Architecture / Sustainability & Green Design
Architecture / Urban & Land Use Planning
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"That's what we do really: we do miracles,” said Anne-Marie Nyiranshimiyimana, who learned masonry in helping to build the Butaro Hospital, a project designed for and with the people of Rwanda using local materials. This, and other projects designed with dignity, show the power of good design. Almnothing influences the quality of our lives more than the design of our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and our public spaces. Yet, design is often taken for granted and people don't realize that they deserve better, or that better is even possible.

In Design for Good, John Cary offers character-driven, real-world stories about projects around the globe that offer more—buildings that are designed and created with and for the people who will use them. The book reveals a new understanding of the ways that design shapes our lives and gives professionals and interested citizens the tools to seek out and demand designs that dignify.

For too long, design has been seen as a luxury, the province of the rich, not the poor. That can no longer be acceptable to those of us in the design fields, nor to those affected by design that doesn't consider human aspects.

From the Mulan Primary School in Guangdong, China to Kalamazoo College's Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the examples in the book show what is possible when design is a collaborative, dignified, empathic process. Building on a powerful foreword by philanthropist Melinda Gates, Cary draws from his own experience as well as dozens of interviews to show not only that everyone deserves good design, but how it can be achieved. This isn't just another book for and about designers. It's a book about the lives we lead, inextricably shaped by the spaces and places we inhabit.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) seeks to maximize access to mass transit and nonmotorized transportation with centrally located rail or bus stations surrounded by relatively high-density commercial and residential development. New Urbanists and smart growth proponents have embraced the concept and interest in TOD is growing, both in the United States and around the world.

New Transit Town brings together leading experts in planning, transportation, and sustainable design—including Scott Bernstein, Peter Calthorpe, Jim Daisa, Sharon Feigon, Ellen Greenberg, David Hoyt, Dennis Leach, and Shelley Poticha—to examine the first generation of TOD projects and derive lessons for the next generation. It offers topic chapters that provide detailed discussion of key issues along with case studies that present an in-depth look at specific projects. Topics examined include:

the history of projects and the appeal of this form of development a taxonomy of TOD projects appropriate for different contexts and scales the planning, policy and regulatory framework of "successful" projects obstacles to financing and strategies for overcoming those obstacles issues surrounding traffic and parking the roles of all the actors involved and the resources available to them performance measures that can be used to evaluate outcomes

Case Studies include Arlington, Virginia (Roslyn-Ballston corridor); Dallas (Mockingbird Station and Addison Circle); historic transit-oriented neighborhoods in Chicago; Atlanta (Lindbergh Center and BellSouth); San Jose (Ohlone-Chynoweth); and San Diego (Barrio Logan).

New Transit Town explores the key challenges to transit-oriented development, examines the lessons learned from the first generation of projects, and uses a systematic examination and analysis of a broad spectrum of projects to set standards for the next generation. It is a vital new source of information for anyone interested in urban and regional planning and development, including planners, developers, community groups, transit agency staff, and finance professionals.

FEW TECHNOLOGICAL ACHIEVEMENTS are as impressive as the ability to see our own planet from outer space. The beautiful sphere suspended against the black void of space makes plain the bond that the billions of us on Earth have in common.

This global consciousness inspires space travellers who then provide emotional and spiritual observations. Their views from outer space awaken them to a grand realization that all who share our planet make up a single community. They think this viewpoint will help unite the nations of the world in order to build a peaceful future for the present generation and the ones that follow.

Many poets, philosophers, and writers have criticized the artificial borders that separate people preoccupied with the notion of nationhood. Despite the visions and hopes of astronauts, poets, writers, and visionaries, the reality is that nations are continuously at war with one another, and poverty and hunger prevail in many places throughout the world, including the United States.

So far, no astronaut arriving back on Earth with this new social consciousness has pro- posed to transcend the world's limitations with a world where no national boundaries exist. Each remains loyal to his/her particular nation-state, and doesn’t venture beyond patriotism - "my country, right or wrong" – because doing so may risk their positions.

Most problems we face in the world today are of our own making. We must accept that the future depends upon us. Interventions by mythical or divine characters in white robes descending from the clouds, or by visitors from other worlds, are illusions that cannot solve the problems of our modern world. The future of the world is our responsibility and depends upon decisions we make today. We are our own salvation or damnation. The shape and solutions of the future depend totally on the collective effort of all people working together.


INTRODUCTION

Although many of us feel we can prepare for our future by thinking, acting, and learning using present methods and values, nothing is farther from the truth – especially in today’s rapidly changing world. A newborn child enters a world not of his or her own making. Each succeeding generation inherits the values, accomplishments, hopes, successes, and failings of previous generations. And they inherit the results of the decisions made by those generations.


For the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence when technologies were simple or non-existent, this may have had little impact on human life and the earth that sustains it. Each generation of hunters and gatherers, then plowmen and pioneers, passed on tools to the next generation to help them survive. Change from one generation to the next was slow and hardly noticeable. In those days there was little understanding of science and how things worked, and explanations were not scientific.


This is no longer the case in today’s high-tech world where a change that affects millions may happen in a matter of seconds. A child born today inherits a world vastly different from that of its parent’s generation, let alone that from centuries ago. Previous generations left a legacy of, exploitation, occupation, and irrelevant values that present great challenges, but also opportunities to the people of today.


The application of scientific principles, for better or worse, accounts for every single advance that has improved people’s lives. Important documents and proclamations have been issued granting rights and privileges to members of societies, but at the heart of human progress – or destruction – is the rock-solid foundation of science.


For generations past it was impossible to direct the future much beyond the present moment, and forecasts of the future were based on non- scientific methods. Prophets and sages presented visions of the future based on dreams, hallucinations, religious fervor, divination of animal parts, crystal balls, etc. Some may even have been accurate, but this was more because of luck than because of any direct channel to the supernatural.

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